Wolverhampton Grand at 125: When theatre fans saved the Grand

By Marion Brennan | Wolverhampton | Theatre & Comedy | Published:

Theatre fans gathered round as a pile of cash raised to save their beloved Grand was deposited in a makeshift safe.

Save The Grand supporters hand over cash for the campaign

The group were supporters of the Lichfield Street theatre who fought for the re-opening of the venue after its shock closure on February 23, 1980, following financial difficulties

The decision caused public outcry, with many refusing to accept the loss of live theatre in the town. A Save The Grand action group was quickly launched, with the aim of raising both funds and awareness of the theatre's financial dilemma and its importance not only to Wolverhampton but surrounding towns and villages.

Following tense negotiations with the council, a compromise was reached. The theatre would be saved but only after a massive renovation and restoration scheme, and the promise of an annual grant from the local authority.

When the Grand eventually re-opened on August 31, 1983, it was arguably one of the best-equipped theatres in the country.

Cash was raised in a variety of ways, co-ordinated by the Save The Grand Theatre campaign and members of the Grand Theatre Club.

In our photograph, supporters are pictured handing over more than £300 towards the campaign. Councillor Ted Lane(right), chairman of the borough council's theatre sub-committee, received the money from (left to right) Mrs Joan Beere, Mrs Maggie Blaney, Mrs Pat Wilkes, Mr Mike Jennings, Mrs Brenda Jennings and Mr Ron Beere, all members of the campaign group.

The image is reproduced here as the Express & Star joins with the Grand to mark the theatre’s milestone 125th anniversary later this year.

* If you have memories or pictures, email or write to 125 Memories Project, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, WV1 1DE.

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan

News and features reporter, specialising in human interest and local history stories.


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